Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy flies over New Jersey center Michael McLeod. McAvoy is averaging more than 24 minutes per game since stepping in as the team’s top defensenman. Elise Amendola/Associated Press


One of the several reasons that factored into the Bruins’ thinking in allowing both Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug to walk in the offseason was the notion that the 23-year-old Charlie McAvoy was ready to assume the mantle of the true No. 1 defenseman he was expected to be when drafted 14th overall in 2016.

They haven’t been proven wrong yet.

In the first 14 games – a quarter of this 56-game schedule – McAvoy was third on the team in points (1-10-11). He hasn’t exactly become a shot machine (30 after Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Devils) but his increased involvement in the offensive play has been easily noticeable. With Matt Grzelcyk limited to just six games thus far due to injuries, McAvoy has also been making the most of the increased opportunity he’s been seeing on the power play. His three power-play assists have already bested the two power-play points he notched in 67 games last year.

McAvoy, who played in his 199th NHL game on Thursday, chalked it up to time in the league.

“The biggest thing for that would just be the experience part,” said McAvoy. “I want to contribute, I want to be a part of it, I want to help my team in those ways. I know the offense side of the plays is a way to do that. It’s just that quick thinking. When you see the chance to go, you go for it. I guess I’m feeling more sure of myself in those opportunities.”


Until this season, McAvoy had played most of his career alongside future Hall of Famer Chara and he’s now with Jeremy Lauzon, who came into the season with a grand total of 35 NHL games. While not playing under the watchful eye of Chara might be freeing, McAvoy didn’t see it that way.

“At the end of the day, the game doesn’t change, right? It’s still hockey. You’re still going out there and playing. From that standpoint, nothing changes,” said McAvoy, leading the Bruins in ice time with an average of 24:19. “I’m playing with a different partner, Lauzy, who’s different from Z. Obviously, Z is one of a kind, but Lauzy is a special player and he works incredibly hard and I think he complements me well.”

DOWN TIME: Jaroslav Halak was in the net on Thursday against the Devils. Tuukka Rask play in the nationally televised game on Sunday against the Flyers from Lake Tahoe, which will give Rask a full seven days off between games.

It is, of course, an unusual schedule, made even more so by the COVID-19 postponements. But it’s been a long time since anything has been normal.

“We’ve been dealing with the inconsistencies of daily life for a long time now. You take what comes at you now. You used to say, ‘you play the schedule in front of you’ but that’s not even the case any more,” said Coach Bruce Cassidy with a chuckle. “Now you have to roll with it. You have no chance if you don’t. … You should always have a Plan B. And this year, you should have a Plan C, D and E in your back pocket.”

SUNDAY TIME CHANGE: Because of a forecast of sunlight with no cloud cover – a possibly dangerous playing condition – the Bruins-Flyers game at Lake Tahoe on Sunday has been moved up an hour to 2 p.m.

And unless the NHL decides to make a late change to their opponent, the Bruins will be facing a seriously depleted Flyers team in Tahoe because of COVID-19. Philadelphia Coach Alain Vigneault said on Thursday that none of the players currently on the coronavirus protocol list will travel for the outdoor game. That list includes Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, Jakub Voracek, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Justin Braun and Morgan Frost.

Boston’s Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jakub Zboril (upper body) will remain out at least through Sunday’s game and they will not travel for the outdoor game.

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